Thursday 18 July 2019

Ladies lack work rate to get the better of Galway

Ladies NFL Division 1 Round 1: Galway 1-8 Cork 0-5

Aisling Hutchings
Aisling Hutchings

John Tarrant

Cork could have little complaints on incurring a six point defeat to Galway in the opening round to the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 at Mallow last Saturday. With neither side anywhere near full strength, the host county seldom threatened to make sufficient inroads into a well organised Galway defence, lacking potency and penetration upfront.

With the Mourneabbey representatives taking a well deserved break following their All Ireland Final triumph, it allowed the Cork management to introduce young talent into the side. However at the end of the hour, perhaps, somewhat of a surprise scoreline yet Galway emerged deserving victors on playing by far the more controlled football to confirm that they are a side prospering from underage success, having won All Ireland Minor and U21 honours last season.

On this occasion, Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald handed the captaincy to 'keeper Martina O'Brien who was amongst the nine players returning to duty from the All Ireland SFC Final defeat to Dublin. Newcomers into the side were twin sisters Eimear and Daire Kiely, from Valley Rovers along with former All-Ireland Minor A medallists, Ciara McCarthy and Laura O'Mahony.

At the last shrill of the whistle, Cork were outplayed by a confident and competent Tribes ladies combination that easily coped with a disappointing Rebel attacking unit.

From a typical opening day of the season tussle, both sides took a time to settle, a plethora of handling errors with match official Jonathan Murphy ever so fussy on applying the over carrying infringement. Galway came with a plan and quickly Cork were struggling in attack to work their way through the opposing defensive traffic.

Galway broke the ice, Roisin Leonard combined to place cousin Tracey Leonard for a point. Still Cork held their own, gaining encouragement from a fine Aine O'Sullivan point only for Galway to surge down field for debutant Riona Ní Flahartha to oblige.

With numbers behind the ball, the low risk strategy saw scores become a premium but good work from Eimear Scally placed Orla Finn to point for parity to a contest lacking intensity.

Following a mundane affair for much of the opening half, the tension ratcheted up once Galway's Mairead Seoighe earned a card and a sin-bin punishment. Far from despondent, Galway raised their game most impressively with Tracey Leonard posting back to back points.

Cork continued to struggle, their tackling sloppy, ball retention poor and their cause not helped when the hard working Áine O'Sullivan got her marching orders to the sin bin. And Galway confirmed their superiority right on the stroke of the break, a terrific ball from Megan Glynn set up Roisin Leonard for the contest's lone goal and a clear 1-4 to 0-2 advantage half-time tally.

Cork restarted with a flourish and a Finn pointed appeared good enough to spark a charge. However the home side flattered to deceive, failing to add to their tally until deep into injury time.

In between, Galway controlled matters and though not piling on the scores to any great extent, they held strong performers in key positions and ever composed in defence.

And though scores became a scarce commodity, a brace from Seoighe strengthened Galway handle on the proceedings. At times, Cork were a handful through the spirited play of Hannah Looney, O'Sullivan and Niamh Cotter.

Poor shooting blemished Cork with Galway adding to their tally per Tracey Leonard and Louise Ward. It looked pretty barren for the girls in red, just three points registered in a hour before O'Sullivan added a pair of late consolation points in injury time to improve the tally on the scoreboard.

CORK: M O'Brien (Clonakilty); S Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí), H Looney (Aghada), A Hutchings (Fermoy); M Cahalane (Éire Óg), M Duggan (Dohenys), D Kiely (Valley Rovers) C McCarthy (St Vals), A T O'Sullivan (Beara) 0-3; E Kiely (Valley Rovers), N Cotter (Beara), L O'Mahony (O'Donovan Rossa); L Coppinger (St. Colums), E Scally (Éire Óg), O Finn (Kinsale) 0-2 (1f). Subs: S O'Leary (Kinsale) for C McCarthy (ht), A Kelleher (St Vals) for M Cahalane (ht), C Collins (Dromtariffe) for S Kelly (40), M Ambrose (St Vals) for D Kiely (50).

GALWAY: D Gower; M Coyne, S Lynch, F Cooney; S Molloy, L Ward 0-1, C Cooney; O Divilly, M Glynn; M Seoighe 0-2, T Leonard 0-4 (1f), L Coen; R Ni Flahartha 0-1, R Leonard 1-0, S Conneally. Subs: L Hannon for M Glynn (33), A Thompson for S Conneally (43), B Murphy for R Ni Flahartha (55), B Hannon for R Leonard (56), L Booth for M Coyne (59).

Referee: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow)